Hehehehe….

Well, I made a decision.  Used Val’s suggestion.  It was a good one!

The fireplace was big, stone chimney, hearth and surround.  There were spiral finials on the corner of the mahogany mantle and scones on the wall on either side.  Liam waved a hand at it all.  “This.  You don’t think she’d be so ridiculously obvious, do you?”

Anna snorted.  “She was fairly ridiculously obvious and a stereotype in almost every other way.  Why not this one too?”

Together they stepped to the wall sconces and pulled down on them.  Nothing happened.  They looked at each other and Anna giggled.   “So maybe she’s not that obvious.”  She turned to face the room from the fireplace and looked it over. Nearly every inch of wall was covered in tapestries or paintings.  It was like Skeena had been trying to show her wealth by over-decorating. “It has to be here somewhere.  I guess we’ll have to poke and prod at the walls again.”   It was almost a question.

“Aye an’ we should hurry.”  Liam started a more thorough search of the walls on his side of the fireplace and it didn’t take long before every inch of wall had been pressed on, every painting had been tilted and all the paintings and tapestries had been lifted from the wall. 

Anna sat on a large trunk that rested behind an overstuffed sofa and slumped.  “I was so sure it was here.”

“I was too. I would ima-“ Liam broke off as Anna sat up in alarm.  “What happened, pet?  Are you alright?”  Worry was evident in his voice. 

“The trunk vibrated, I’m sure of it.”  She leapt to her feet.

Jake was becoming rather concerned about Sarah.  She had lost a lot of blood and her pulse was thready. She may be a Vampire but she was a living Vampire and that meant she could die.  Without help to either make her live again or turn all the way, she was permanently dead.  Jake couldn’t let that happen, too many people relied on her and loved her.

 He carried her to the base of the stairs and laid her gently on the floor.  He got rid of the corpse of the guard by tossing it into the dungeon and leapt up the stairs by twos.  He hammered on the trap door that guarded the entrance to the dungeon.  “Hey!  Sarah needs help!”  He banged again.  “Hello! Help!”

They stared at the trunk for a moment then Liam ripped it out of the way.  Anna tore away the ugly rug that lay beneath and tossed it aside.  They both gaped at the well fitted door that was cut into the floor.  A flat handle nestled into it near the edge closest to Anna.  She bent over and wrenched on it, fear for Sarah and anger at Skeena lending her strength.  She tore it right off its hinges.

Jake stared up, startled at the sudden disappearance of the barrier.  He barely registered the identity of the faces above him.  “Move it!  Sarah needs help.  She’s dying.  Is the Prince dead?”

“Yes.”  Anna hurried down after Jake, Liam on her heels.

“Good!  Now Sarah has a chance.  If she lives.”  Jake stopped by Sarah and knelt beside her.  He stroked her hair.  “We need to find her help.”

“I am the help.”  Anna’s voice was quiet.

Jake looked up.  Then he jumped to his feet.  “Princess!  I am so sorry.  I should have recognized you immediately.”  His eyes cut to one side.  “Consort.  Thank you for your aid.”

Liam nodded as Anna knelt on Sarah’s other side and brusquely assessed her injuries.  “She will not survive these.  I can turn her but she will have some extra abilities if I do so.What, you didn’t think I was going to show you the Change did you?  *evil cackle*  The other option is that you do it.”

Jake shook his head.  “My apologies Princess but I have not fed recently and do not have the reserves.”


Well Then…

Canada Post is expensive.  Been looking at shipping costs.

And life has punched me in the chops.

A few months ago my jaw started clicking and snapping and locking up.  It hurt.  Up into my temples, behind my eyes and ears, down my neck.  

So I saw the doc. That’s what you do, right?  I know I’ve had TMJ Disorder for years. It was apparent that something was wrong.  The resident (4th year) told me it was a TMJ flare.  “Take Aleve for three days.”

Sure, because pills are the answer to everything.

But I do it.  Pain eases, clicking and snapping does not.

Mergh.

So I wait a few more weeks until my next monthly appointment.  “Doc *this* is what is going on.  *This* is how long it’s been going on.”

Frown of concern, long, slim, warm, well manicu- *ahem*  sorry, I’ve had a thing for my doctor for almost 20 years.  Anyway, he pressed his fingers gently to the joint on either side and had me open and close it.

“It’s dislocating when you operate it.  Soft foods, don’t open it very wide.”  Also suggested I find a dentist.

*sigh*

So I found a dentist.  They shunted me to an orthodontist.  

And what does the orthodontist say?

*laughs*  No, not that bad.  (That looks like an interesting BDSM scene though 😉 )

He says that it’s dislocated, locked up and the meniscus is damaged.  It’s a joint like any other.  He said “Don’t let anyone talk you into surgery!”  Which made me go “O.O!”

But he said:  Soft foods, don’t open wide, come back to get a mouth guard fitted.

I hate mouth guards.  I gag on things that hold my mouth open (which is why I don’t chew on pencils).

Have to get insurance approval for the visits and the guard.  So I wait.  

Meanwhile there’s a vice on my skull.  The muscles in my jaw, face and neck are so tight I could scream.   Focus is generally beyond me.  My ability to think coherently for very long is iffy.  (This post has taken me over an hour)

So my writing has suffered – I’ve been probably 3,000 words away from finishing the book for two weeks now.  Unforgivable!

And my blogs have suffered.  I’ve been averaging what 2.5 a week the last few weeks?  Also unforgivable.

Mergh.  I resolve to do better.

In the meantime, I would like your help!  Look:

Liam watched as Anna palmed a throwing knife then stepped forward.  He ducked under a wing and stepped between the two Vampires.  “Anna.  Kill her or don’t, but stop playing with her.”

Black eyes with fires burning in their depths turned in Liam’s direction and he took half a step back.  Slowly the fires died down and she blinked, even though her form didn’t change.  Anna opened her mouth to speak and Skeena’s voice came out.  She frowned and her wings dipped.  She cleared her throat and opened her mouth again.

Once again, Skeena’s voice seemed to emerge.  “Get away from me you DOG!  I don’t need you to protect me.”  She lashed out with her feet and the fires flared up in Anna’s eyes as Liam’s knee popped and he toppled with a yelp of pain.

Anna grabbed her sword’s hilt in both hands, pulled it out of the wall but not out of Skeena, twisted it and dragged it down through Skeena’s body.  A thick ragged cut followed the sword, along with screaming.  Then the screaming stopped and the bottom half of Skeena fell to the ground.  The top half dangled from the hand and the Alphas stared for a moment before turning away to find the entrance to the dungeon, Liam leaning on Anna.

 

 

Chapter Forty-Three

 

“You go ahead, find the door, I’ll be fine.”  Liam tried to put weight on the knee and sought to find the Anna he loved in the frightening visage before him. 

Anna’s wings were high in aggravation and she stopped.  “Sarah can wait a minute.”  She knelt, her concern and love for Liam beginning to override her fury at Skeena.  She knelt and put her thick-fingered, grey skinned hands around his damaged knee.   She called on the love and her power and soon soft blue light poured from her hands to surround his knee.

As heat filled his knee, Liam watched while Anna’s wings pulled into her back and disappeared.  He watched the pale porcelain skin he loved reappear and sighed softly with pleasure.  When she looked up to ask him how it felt he was relieved to see his Anna’s face.  Her eyes were still black but the change was enough to make him smile at her.  “It’s feeling much better, my love.”

With a returning smile, Anna rose to her feet.  “Good, let’s go find Sarah then.  I am willing to bet the entrance to her little dungeon is in her rooms.”

Liam put his weight on his injured leg and breathed a sigh of relief through his nostrils.  “I’d have to agree.”  They turned around, stepped over Skeena’s flaky remains and cautiously opened the doors into her chambers.

Finding nothing, they began searching the walls for a door.  With a speaking look at each other after the initial search turned up nothing they started moving paintings and wall sconces.  There was a large fireplace on one wall and Liam had a flash of a few B-movies where the fireplace wall spun.   He shook his head.  “Even she couldn’t have been that stereotypical.”

“What do you mean?”  Anna moved over to him curiously and stared at the fireplace with him.

The fireplace was big, stone chimney, hearth and surround.  There were spiral finials on the corner of the mahogany mantle and scones on the wall on either side.  Liam waved a hand at it all.  “This.  You don’t think she’d be so ridiculously obvious, do you?”

Anna snorted.  “She was fairly ridiculously obvious and a stereotype in almost every other way.  Why not this one too?”

Together they stepped to the wall sconces and pulled down on them.

Where do you think this should end?  The fireplace swing open or no?  Door hidden behind a tapestry?  Also cliché but hey, Skeena’s not known for her original thoughts.  *chuckles*

I’m going to get myself  some Lego Batman action I think.  It’s a good distraction.  It’s weird but the more my jaw hurts, the more the rest of me does.  Very strange. 

And I’m done whining.  😉

 

Oh by the way, I deliberately ignored the physics of the knife holding up the majority of the upper body.  The weight of the upper body would slide over the blade (whether it was vertical or not) and eventually the hand would tear open, allowing the body to hit the floor. No idea how long it would take to do so I’m ignoring it on purpose.  I don’t have a large pig to play with, not to mention a space I can get that dirty.

The Best Shots of the Week

Happy Sunday, folks!

It is time for my Saturday photo blog! 

Yep, I’m aware it’s Sunday morning.  However, yesterday my daughter had a dance competition and by the time I was done there the chemical exposures had pretty much shut down any cognitive parts of my brain that would have allowed me to do this with any comprehension.

In other words:  Chemicals made me stupid.  It sucks.  I’m not feeling all that much better today.  Mostly clearer in the head, slightly cranky and I’m sore & coughing.  The last two are contributing to the cranky.  *laughs*

She did great though.  The judges docked some point for problems the stage caused, even though her team recovered really well.  They were graded about middle of the road.  We thought they should’ve gotten gold.  But her dad and I aren’t judges 😉

On to my favourite shots of the week.  Yes, we have returned to macro shots and beach shots BUT that’s because that’s what I love.  I can’t remember the name of this first flower and it’s annoying me… oh wait, let me look it up as a perennial.  HA!  See, brain IS working today!  One second please.

*plays Jeopardy theme song while we wait*

And 20 minutes later I still don’t have the answer.  I could text the woman whose garden I found it in but it’s a little early.  I’ll ask her later.

Edit: She told me this morning it’s a columbine.  😀  Good to know!

I like the focus in this one. The detail in the background. Still on the super macro setting like the previous one.

I love the combination of fragile, fleeting, flowing beauty and the enduring, everlasting stoic stiffness of the two plants cohabitating here.

The following evening we went to the beach and I got some spectacular sunset pictures.  But before the sun began it’s final descent we had some company on the shore.

This is Gill. He was our guide for a short stretch of beach. When we walked, he preceded us. When we stopped, he stopped. It was amusing. (I also happen to like the way this picture came out with the colours and contrasts in nature.)

I saw these and just had to follow them! They led me too…

…this guy. Meet The Boyfriend, Peter.

Then the sun started going down.

It’s beautiful, no? I love the sun peeking through the clouds and the reflection on the water right at the horizon. Remember you can right click > open image in new tab to get more details in my pics.

Vertical panorama. The camera focused mostly on the water and the sun is a tad over-exposed. I love the effect, the dark water and the bright sunset.

Here the focus is deliberately more to the foreground and the sunset is, again, a little over exposed. Overall, this is one of my favourites. All three of them are, of the nearly dozen sunset pics I took.

At the end of our walk, we had happy feet. Dirty feet but happy.

Even though my visit to my brother got postponed and I had to make my ex-husband take my daughter to the emergency room (“Fine! But you’re wasting my time!” then a growly hang up) it’s a good weekend.  It was a good week too.  I hope all y’all can say the same.

*clears throat*  Sorry about the “all y’all”… too many Southeners in my life I think.  Not to mention that moonshiner show on Discovery.  😉

Have a great day!

I Think…

…there might be something wrong with me.  Seriously, fundamentally wrong.  *laughs*

Anna and Liam slipped into the house, shutting out the sounds of battle.  They were immediately hit by the scent of blood and death.  They picked their way through the house to Skeena’s room.  They found her in the antechamber.

Skeena’s eyes were wild and she was holding a head in one hand.  She was holding it by the length of spine sticking out from the bottom of the skull.  All the tattoos were upside down but there was only one person who had that set of tattoos on her scalp – Alice.  “Look what you made me do!” The crazed Vampire screamed the words at Anna then she lifted the head and licked the cooling blood off the still warm head.  “She was my favourite food.”

Anna dodged to one side as the head – she couldn’t bear to think of it as “Alice’s head” – came flying at her.  She tried desperately not to flinch as the head thumped against the wall, bounced off and rolled to a stop at Liam’s feet.  Anna stood straight yet relaxed in an unconscious fighter’s stance, in one hand was the first scroll.  “I did nothing to you.”   She lifted the scroll and repeated the words she’d spoken earlier.

“Skeena Macfarlane, Prince of Glasgow, you are hereby ordered to step down and vacate both your position and these premises posthaste.”

Yep.  That’s what’s in my head this morning. 

Fun isn’t it?

Oh by the way… this is post number 51.  Awesome, no?

Death. Always fun to write about.  Just ask Poe.

Suck It Up, Buttercup

Buttercups. Really.

 

Yep, I gotta suck it up.

I’ve been putting off the investment proposal.

I HAVE to do it, it’s the only way possible for me, who lives well below the property line, to get where I need to go.

Never would’ve guessed that about  me, would you?  Everything I own is either something I’ve had for years or a gift.  My apartment, net and phone are all carefully maintained by carefully counting pennies and sacrificing much.  I would not be able to do what I do without the generous help of certain people.  

I’m disabled, I don’t live this way by choice.  I will never be able to work again, as much as I would love to.  I loved working – loved the people, the purpose – and I miss it.

And I’m kind of a proud person.  I loathe asking for something I think I should be able to provide/do for myself.  Fact of the matter is, when it comes to marketing my book I simply cannot do it without help.  

So I have to write this damn thing.  And I will.  Today’s goal is to make decisions.  If I actually end up writing it all, so be it.  

The whole thing boils down to:  “Will you invest $$$ in my talent for a %%% return?  It’d be slow and may never pay out at all, but do you believe in me, and my belief in me, enough to do it?”

Tough question to write, to ask someone.  

The last thing I need to do is figure out who to send it to.  Dad is already investing in me by gifting me with the books.  Don’t know many people with money.  *laughs*

So here I am, working on this.  (Okay, technically, currently writing to you fine folks.)  I have my moments when I wonder why.  Then I have moments where a voice in my head says, “Fuck that. You’ve worked your ass off to get here it’s time you started the ascent to ‘overnight success’.”

Isn’t that little voice confident?

I have confidence in my writing.  I know it’s good. I know people like it.

My questions end up being:

Will they like it enough?

Will I reach enough people?

Will they like it enough?

Can I make a movie of it?

Yeah okay… that last one is a stretch 😉  but the first three, they’re logical.  If a tad repetitive.  

So that leads to the logical question:

If you have confidence in your work, what the hell is your problem with the investment?

See the previous statement:  And I’m kind of a proud person.  I loathe asking for something I think I should be able to provide/do for myself.

It’s a vicious circle.  So now I’m trying to miss that last curve (that last left turn) and get this done.  

Argh!

Saturday Sunshine

**Note: If you right click and select “Open image in a new tab” you will get the large version of the picture and therefore be able to see more details.  🙂

 

Well hi!

I’ve been busy, off the computer and on.  Lots of research and lots of writing.  Yes, there will be a book four.  *le sigh*  Anna & Liam will go to the Congo.   AFTER they help Elsie!  I’ve had that book planned for a while and I’m not putting it off.  *laughs*

Meanwhile, it’s photo-blog day!  I have lots of pictures taken from all over the place around here.  

But first…

This is my work space today, minus my camera since I’m using it to take the picture.

Isn’t it great?  I love the cottage.  Hell, I love just being able to go outside.  I can’t do that in my apartment.  There’s a 2-bedroom apartment for rent in a nearby town that is the same as I’m paying now and IT has a *balcony*!!  But that screws up my custody agreement so, for now, as long as Peter puts up with me in His life, I will work outside on the weekends when the weather permits.

And yes, that’s a stuffed polar bear, a knife and another blade.  The other blade is a broken saw blade; both were part of my research for the day.

This is yesterday’s work space.  😀

Fabulous, no?

We were cycling yesterday and Peter said I had to see the old gardens in the community our friend Goldi lives in.  So we went to look.  Beside the plot of land is a nature trail.  Of course I had to take advantage of both.

A field of weeds? Depends, I guess, on your view of things. To me that’s just nature taking over. They’ve let the plots grow over.

These are, I believe, very pale purple violets.

The next two pics are my very favourites of the day.

I LOVE the colours and textures and the play of light and shadow here.

The texture is just amazing!

This pic here…  I couldn’t see the view screen.  *laughs*  I couldn’t remember what poison ivy looked like (beyond “it has THREE leaves!”) so I refused to kneel down to look at what I was taking a picture of.  It came out beautifully, didn’t it?  

After our walk in the woods we got back on our bikes and went tooling around out of the community and to the strip.  Grand Bend is a tourist community on the coast of Lake Huron.  We have beautiful beaches – which is why I like taking so many pictures there.  We hit the strip, coasted down the hill and ended up in the sand.  With books.

Of course.

I looked up and saw this oddity: Toys for toddlers and a bunch of gulls. I didn’t know gulls made sandcastles and played with cars! There were no other humans in sight or sound of the toys. It was fun to imagine.

All in all, a perfect day.

Peter keeps threatening to put a level on my camera.  He says the water is going to run right out of the pic!  I told him it’s not *my* fault the lake is crooked.  😀

Two last pictures and then we’re off for a bike ride.

Happened to notice that my cat’s eye is a myriad of layers and I was trying to capture that. I almost succeeded.

His eye looks like half a globe or like those thousand flower glass paperweights.  All the colour and substance seems to be the base of his eye covered by the thinnest, most delicate of glass domes.  It is fascinating.  But getting a picture at the right angle of a cat who doesn’t like cameras OR people near his whiskers is difficult.  Nevertheless, I think this picture came out well.

If you know what this is, please let me know!

And I’m out.  We are preparing to go spend another afternoon on our bicycles.

First, a little teaser.  Skeena has discovered that there is a plot against her and that Sarah is on the wrong side (in other words, any side Skeena’s not on).

Skeena realized something was up when her food began to disappear.  They stopped kowtowing and started standing straighter just before they started refusing to come when summoned.  She called Sarah to her rooms. 

“Yes, my Prince?”  Sarah was a consummate actress.  She knew what was coming but she worked damn hard to make sure it never showed in her eyes or attitude.

“Why are the dogs and cats suddenly refusing to feed me?”

Fuck! thought Sarah.  Idiots!  Outwardly she shrugged.  “I have no idea, Prince.  Perhaps the ones you have summoned do not have the blood to give and need fed and some rest?” As soon as the question was out of her mouth she watched to snatch it out of the air.  It was openly critical, not something the other took too well.

Skeena was on her in a flash.  She slammed Sarah against the wall, one hand on her throat, crushing her windpipe.  She couldn’t kill Sarah that way and they both knew it, but it hurt like hell.  They both knew that too.  Snarling and ever paranoid, Skeena searched Sarah’s eyes.  “You have always been loyal to me Sarah MacLean.  Do not make any mistakes now.”

Sarah was unable to keep the hatred out of her eyes and what was left of her voice.  “Your end is coming, you controlling cow.  Did you really think you could act this way forever?”  Her words were hoarse but she knew the Prince heard her well.

“Only one person has the ability to pull off a coup with any remote chance of success, my friend,” Skeena sneered the last word, “and that is you.”  Skeena released Sarah’s throat and Sarah dropped to her knees, coughing. 

Sarah hadn’t needed to breathe but that didn’t change the body’s instinct to try and get the throat back in working order.  In the next moment she yelped in pain as Skeena’s foot connected with her spleen, then her ribs.  Still, her ire was enough to make her grind out one last sentence.  “You’ll be ash before the night is out.  I pray I get the chance to do it myself.”

Skeena’s foot connected with Sarah’s jaw and as Sarah lay there, fighting the blackness threatening to take over her mind Skeena yelled for her guards.  Two entered the room, one loyal to the bone to the Prince and the other loyal to Sarah.  They both showed surprise at seeing Sarah on the floor, spitting out blood.  “Take this cunt down to my dungeon!  I’ll be done as soon as I change my clothes.”

The guard loyal to Sarah reached her first and, with an internal wince, wrapped his fingers in her hair to pull her upright.  As Sarah’s hands flew up to grab his wrist he adjusted his grip so it only looked like he was pulling her solely by her hair.  Sarah’s grip on his wrist made her able to help him maintain the illusion.   Guard two, satisfied the first had things properly in hand, merely opened the door.  Neither of them said anything to the Prince, conditioned long ago never to speak in her presence.  She had said that didn’t want to hear voices of the peons in her home.

The two dragged Sarah through a series of corridors, past Wolves, a couple of Tigers and one Lion, they all looked on with wide eyes.  One of the Tigers then discretely withdrew to find a phone.  She called Glynnis and relayed what she saw.

In the dungeon, Sarah was strung up.  She was manacled wrist and ankle by Guard One then Guard Two turned a crank set into the stone wall and Sarah’s arms were lifted above her head and stretched just to the point of tolerance, until she was standing on the tips of her toes.  Her clothes were cut from her by the other guard, who did his best to convey that someone would save her without letting the other guard see it.  Sarah took an unneeded breath and sighed softly as she let her head droop.  Her hair fell forward to curtain her face and she mouthed, “It’s okay,” at Guard One.

He turned to Guard Two.  “She’s set, go let the Prince know.”

“She doesn’t want to hear from us, she said she’d be down in a moment, we’ll leave it at that.”  Just then the door opened and both their mouths snapped shut.

Skeena was wearing a blood red Gi and carrying a wooden case about thirty-two inches long by six wide.  She looked around the room.  There were a couple of small tables, one beside what looked like a dentist’s chair and one beside a four foot high stone altar.  “Move a table to sit in front of her.”

As Guard Two did her bidding Skeena shifted the case to under one arm and moved to a glass fronted cabinet with interior recessed lights.  Inside was a shelf of knives.  Curved ones, long ones, short ones, wide ones, narrow filet style ones.  There were double-edged and single-edged; ones for hunting, gutting, skinning and survival.  Skeena picked up one that sat alone under its own spotlight.

The Prince brought the knife and case over to the table and set them both down.  She opened the case and pulled out a cat-o’-nine whip and showed it to Skeena with a grin.  “It’s been a long time since I used this.”  She lifted the tails to Sarah’s line of vision.  Sarah was staring at the wall across from her but Skeena managed to make her focus for a brief moment on the whip.  Skeena cackled when Sarah shuddered.  The flogger was thirty inches long, six inches were the handle, the other twenty-four inches was comprised of the thin leather falls.

Each of the nine tails had pieces of razor sharp bone tied into it in random places, two to four pieces per tail. The thing was designed not only to have a hell of an impact but to shred flesh.  And the Prince was planning on using it on Sarah.

“It’s lovely, isn’t it?”  Skeena waited for an answer.  When none was forthcoming, she slapped Sarah across the facing, leaving a bright red imprint of her hand.  “It’s lovely, isn’t it.”

“Quite.  You really should feel it for yourself before you use it on anyone else.”

Skeena was amused.  “But first, we’re going to indulge ourselves in a little blade play.  Playing with knives is so much fun, don’t you think?”

Sarah shrugged.  She liked to play a little rough in the bedroom – she liked her ass slapped when being fucked from behind or her nipples pinched hard.  Sometimes she liked having her mouth used without her having any control over it.  But she did not hold with the level of Sadomasochism Skeena did.  Especially since a lot of the masochists Skeena played with were involuntary.

Skeena laid the flogger down and picked up the knife.  It had a four inch handle with a double-sided grip.  The blade was nine inches long.  One side was a smooth, sharp edge. It was straight until an inch or so to the tip where it swooped up.  The opposite side had a small scoop in it then a serrated edge started.  The blade was custom and Skeena had had the edge cut like a saw blade.  A saw blade is set so that the teeth are set just off centre, alternating left and right.  She kept both edges sharp enough to slice a piece of paper, were one dropped onto it.

Sarah knew that blade.  She had seen what it could do and for the first time, fear crept into her eyes.

“Oh good,” Skeena drawled, “you remember this knife.  We’re going to play with it.”  She set the smooth edge against Sarah’s ribs, just under her arm and applied a small bit of pressure.  She drew the knife around to under Sarah’s breast in a wide arc.  Then, before Sarah could begin to feel the delayed pain such a sharp knife creates, Skeena flipped the knife around and dug the serrated edge into the new cut.  

Skeena sawed at the cut, tearing the edges of the flesh and digging until she hit bone.  She followed the new cut all the way around.  

Sarah ground her teeth together and clenched her fists.  It took all her will power not to scream out.  

Skeena saw that as a challenge.

Have a great long weekend folks!

The Congo

As promised, a blog about where the writing is going.

And holy hannah!  It has taken a turn that has surprised even me.  I think there’s going to be a book four!  

Look what happened:

Chapter Thirty-Eight

 

Half an hour later, the Alphas, Beta and Gamma all gathered in the study, which had been left untouched by the fire.  Covering Liam’s large desk was a second map of Glasgow.  On the map on the wall they were building a list of allies.  Pushpins were beginning to dot the city as calls came in.

Elsie appeared at Anna’s elbow, scaring half the life out of the Hybrid.  “Ye need ta eat, girl.”

Anna cleared her throat and blushed faintly, embarrassed by the short scream that had escaped her.  “I’m not hungry.”

“When is the last time ye did eat?”  Elsie put her hands on her hips and stared up at Anna.  When it was apparent that Anna had no clue Elsie nodded.  “That settles it then. I’ll set the Wolves ta cookin’.  And ye will eat Lassie!”

Anna glared at the others when they chuckled.  The chuckles turned into coughs and she smiled at Elsie.  “We have quite a bit of work to do here, Elsie.  I’ll eat when there’s time.”

A low rumble came from Liam’s chest. “She’s right, I don’t know when you ate last and I’ve been with you for two days.  You’ll eat when the food is ready.” 

“Yes Lee.”

“We’ll all eat.  Thank you Elsie.  I thought you’d gone to visit your family but I am glad you’re here to remind me to look after my Mate.”  Liam gave Elsie a soft smile.

“Yer welcome.  Yer a bit of an amandan like my dear husband but I like you.”  Elsie smiled sweetly at him and vanished as Anna giggled. 

“I think I like that word – amandan.”  She grinned, trying for innocent and failing, as Liam mock growled.

Liam swatted her ass and turned back to the map.  “The Taiyou Clan and the Kita Tribe have both pledged their allegiance to our side of this cause.  We haven’t heard from the Bloedbad Coterie but I’m sure we will.”  He looked at the door just before it opened.  “Yes?”

“Alpha, there is …someone… here to see you.”  The young Wolf said.  His eyes were wide and nostrils flared.

Liam frowned.  “Who is it?”

“He says his name is…” the Wolf hesitated then spoke carefully, “Sen-TWAH-lee.”

Anna looked curious.  “That’s an interesting name.  And he came to the door?  That means he got through the wards.”  She tipped her head up and smiled at Liam.  “We should speak with him.” 

Liam nodded. “Send him in, Jack.”

“Yes, my Alpha.”

A moment later the largest black man, the largest man period, any of them had ever seen walked through the door of the study.  Anna barely remembered to snap her mouth shut as Liam controlled his reaction and stepped forward.  “Welcome to my home…”  He left it open for the man to fill in his name.  Liam didn’t quite trust Jack’s interpretation of the name.

“I am Sentwali.” The man bowed slightly as he spoke his name, exactly the way Jack had pronounced it.

Liam smiled.  “Welcome to my home, Sentwali.  How may we help you?”

“I am the Alpha of the Nishati Jamboree and we have just come to Glasgow.  We seek your help and your permission to reside in your territory.”  The man was closer to seven feet tall than six and his shoulders filled the doorway.  His skin was a bitter chocolate and his eyes were almost as dark. 

Anna was more open in her curiousity than the others.  Chelle and Marcus hung back as Anna stepped forward. Her nostrils flared as she took in his scent.  Anna moved closer and circled him.  Sentwali stood passive as Liam stepped back.  He spread his hands wide, palms up, at his sides. 

She took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of the wild.  She smelled wet earth and greenery.  She smelled exotic flowers and unknown animals.  Anna’s eyes closed in pleasure and she lifted a hand to test the energy around him, laying it on his chest as she stopped in front of him.  She looked way up and smiled.  “What are you?”

Liam gasped. “Anna!”

Sentwali held up a hand in Liam’s direction.  “It is fine. I expected such. I am a Jaguar, Lady Hybrid.”

All four of them gasped.  “A Jaguar!  Wonderful!  I am delighted to meet you, Sentwali.  I am Sadira but known as Anna.”

The large man smiled down at the pretty woman who made his Jaguar purr.  He wondered at that reaction.  “All in my family know who you are, Lady Anna.  It is a pleasure to meet you.”  He took her hand and bowed over it with a flourish.

Anna grinned.  “It is a pleasure.”

“Indeed.”  Liam shoved down his Wolf as it rose in agitation over Anna’s reaction to the big Cat.  He moved to Anna’s side and offered his hand.  “I am Liam Taggart, Alpha of the Four Claw Pack.”

Sentwali shook the hand.  “I am honoured to meet you.  We are in need of your help.  You are the only two we can trust.”  His gaze moved to the Beta and Gamma.  “We will trust those you trust.”

Liam stepped aside, drawing Anna with him, a move that did not go unnoticed.  “Come in, sit down.  We will talk.”

“Would you like a drink or anything?” Anna followed the large Were as he moved through the room.  Every creature within her wanted to touch and sniff and explore the Jaguar so, when he refused her offer, she sat on her hands.  And did her best to ignore the need.

Liam knew her well enough to know that she was excited.  And almost everyone could smell it.  He watched as Sentwali’s nostrils flared and his eyes darkened.  He watched as the reaction was controlled and the Jaguar looked to him.  Liam settled in a nearby chair, ignoring Anna’s miniscule movement towards the visitor.  “How may we help you?” 

Anna moved closer again.  Inexplicably, the Jaguar shrank away from her.   The movement almost went unnoticed but Anna saw it and froze.  She took an iron grip on her urges and got up to sit on the edge of Liam’s chair.  He pulled her into his lap and clamped an iron grip around one hip.

Once Sentwali relaxed Liam asked again.  “How may we help you?”

“We have left our home, our beloved jungles, because of an Nganga.”  The Were’s deep, heavily accented voice rumbled through the room.  “The evil of that one is spreading through the jungle and we had to flee.”

Chelle spoke before she could stop herself.  “What’s an Nganga?”  She tried to pronounce it just has he did: gahngah.

“It’s a witch doctor.  In this case a Dark one.”  Anna frowned as she answered, her attraction to the Jaguar momentarily forgotten.  “How does a jamboree as obviously powerful as yours become afraid of a single shaman?

Sentwali growled softly.  “She is no simple shaman.  She has somehow figured out how to lure and capture us.  She has learned how to keep us in our animal form until she is done with us.”

“Done with you?”  Anna’s eyes were turning darker as her growing fury called forth the new Demon.  Her hair was starting to float and small fires were sparking along the tips, like electrical arcs from one wire to another.  “What does that mean?”

The big Jaguar watched the fires in her hair with fascination while he spoke.  “It means she is trapping us and has somehow found a way to siphon off that which makes us Jaguars.”

Everyone in the room stared at Sentwali in shock for several long moments.  Marcus broke the stunned silence.  “But that’s a genetic thing.”

“It is also a magic thing, Beta.”   He turned dark eyes on Marcus.  “And this Nganga discovered how to separate us from our magic.”

“That’s absolutely tragic.”

Elsie popped in just in time to hear Anna say that.  “What’s tragic, Dearie?”

Sentwali visible started then smiled at the ghost.  “Hello. I did not know that this Alpha had ghosts in his house.”

With a sunny smile Elsie curtsied.  “Just the one.  I didna know there was another…wait…”  She peered closely at him.  “Yer nae a Wolf.”

Sentwali looked puzzled for a moment then his expression cleared.  “No, I am not a Wolf. I am a-“

“Wait!” Elsie interrupted him.  “Let me guess, please.”

The big man nodded.  “Certainly.”

Elsie studied him for some time then smiled.  “You are a cat!”

He grinned broadly, white teeth flashing against the dark skin.   “Oui, I am.  I am a Jaguar from the Congo.”

“Well, I never!”  Elsie looked thoroughly delighted.  

Anna cleared her throat to interrupt the love fest getting underway.  “Elsie?”

The little woman gave a small jump.  “Oh!  Oh dear, yes.  Your food is ready.  I’m sure we have enough for the large cat as well, if he wishes.”

Sentwali looked from the ghost to the Alphas and back again.  “I would be most grateful for your hospitality.”  As if on cue a rumble erupted from his stomach.  He looked embarrassed.  “I have not eaten since the flight.”

Liam nodded and Elsie clapped her hands together briskly, though the movement made no sound.  “Off to the dining room with you then.  The Lords and Ladies of the house should always dine with company in the best room.”  She popped out.

Chelle sighed.  “I bet she’s gone to change it.”

Anna giggled as Liam chuckled.  “Probably,” he said.  “Come, as our new friend you are welcome at our table.”   He opened the door and gestured to Sentwali.

“Thank you, my new friend.”

 

Chapter Thirty-Nine

 

As they walked through the house Wolves stopped what they were doing and stared.  Sentwali smiled good-naturedly at them all.  Once he was seated with the Alphas, Beta and Gamma, he stared at the food on the table.  There was a lot of meat, some vegetables and some flaky pies. 

The Wolves waited for a moment then Anna asked gently, “Is there something wrong?”

Sentwali’s laughed thundered around the room. “No, no!  Nothing is wrong.  I am just trying not to pounce upon the food, so hungry am I.”  He chuckled again, looking a bit sheepish.

“Then let’s eat!”  Liam picked up the platter of steak and offered it to their guest, who was seated on his left.  Once Sentwali had accepted, the others dug in.  They ate silently for half an hour then Liam was compelled to ask, “How do you think we can help you, Sentwali?”

The man swallowed then looked at Anna and Liam.  “I am hoping you can help me stop her and save my family.”  He watched as the two Alphas looked at each other and a silent communication passed between them.    He almost didn’t see it.

Liam covered Anna’s hand and smiled at her before turning back to the Jaguar.  “We cannot promise anything but Anna will look into the problem and see if anything can be done.  She does have a prior commitment to help Elsie’s family.”

Sentwali nodded.  “The last Cat was taken three days ago.  She will keep the kitten for six weeks.” His accent was thicker with grief as he spoke. “Merde! I do not mean to put a time line on you, it is that I will need to find help if we are to save her and stop the evil witch.”

Anna gasped.  “A child?  She stole a child?”

“Nicia is but thirteen and elle est entrée dans la puberté…“  Sentwali waved his hand around.  “How do you say it?  She just began her monthly flow.”

“And therefore her Animal also reared its furry head.”  Chelle nodded. 

“So the Nganga likes to take the magic while it is still young.”  Anna looked thoughtful, speaking as she continued to eat the food Liam piled on her plate. 

“She has tried to take them younger but we always found the corpses within a few days.  She would toss them angrily in our hunting paths, destroyed beyond all hope.  Then we noticed she was stealing our children older and older.  Then only the young teenagers started disappearing.”

Liam frowned.  “How long has this been going on?” 

“Trois, peut-être quatre ans maintenant. Ah, sorry, I forget to speak English when I am upset and I am growing angrier speaking of these things.”  He looked embarrassed.  “Three maybe four years now.  She started by taking adults.  We had people disappear every few months at first.  It wasn’t until a twenty-two year old vanished and came back as an old woman and mostly dead that we knew what was going on.  She lived long enough to tell us a frightening tale of magic and a woman who seemed human but was able to turn into a Cat towards the end of the time she spent there.”

Anna leaned forward, her food forgotten.  Liam moved her plate just in time to avoid her putting her forearms in it.  “She is a form of skin-walker it sounds like.   Fascinating.”

“Anna Marie!”

Anna looked surprised.  “I didn’t mean that it wasn’t bad.  I have just never heard of this, in all the centuries of my existence.”

“Non, it is a new magic.  I am hoping we can stop it with her, before others learn of it and start taking others in other clans.”

Again Anna and Liam looked at one another and a silent communication passed between them.  Liam turned his attention to Sentwali as Anna settled against the back of her chair.  “We have to first deal with a political matter here then Anna will look into your problem.  We will decide from there.”

“We must help Elsie’s family before we can go anywhere,” Anna said firmly.

The big Jaguar spread his hands, palms up.  “Of course you must take care of your business first.  I only ask that you consider the matter.” 

“And we shall.  When my Alphas say they will look into it, they will.”  Chelle’s voice was hard.

“Michelle.”  The word carried the weight of a long-winded reprimand and Chelle looked at Anna.

“Yes my Alpha.”  She turned to Sentwali.  “My apologies for my outburst.”

“Accepted, young Wolf, do not worry that you offended me.  I understand one’s devotion to their Alpha.”  Sentwali resumed eating with gusto and everyone else did to.  Then he paused.  “How will you look into the matter from here?”

“Astral travel and I will speak with my father about contacting some of the Vampires in your region to see if they might have any ideas of where I should start.”  Anna smiled.

“Ahhh, oui, your ability to travel without your body as well as most people travel within theirs is quite famous.  May I watch when the time comes?”  To him it was a mere curiousity.

To Anna it was like being asked to be viewed while masturbating and she blushed.  She wasn’t sure why it was so personal but it was.  “If my Alpha wishes to allow it, then you may.  I am quite vulnerable when travelling.”

“And we protect her body fiercely.”  Liam rested his hand on her forearm.

Sentwali rumbled in appreciation.  It sounded like a short purr and the Wolves blinked in surprise.  “It is heartening to see such devotion and love.  The rumours were true.”

“Rumours?”  Marcus looked curious.

“Oui, yes, rumours of their love and her power.  She glows with both.” Sentwali smiled and pushed his plate away.  “This was a wonderful meal.  Merci.  I must return to my family.  How may I contact you?”

Liam rattled off the numbers for his cell phone and the house landline.  Then he realized that perhaps writing things down was a good idea.  Chelle went for paper and pen and Sentwali left with their promise to look into the problem and consider lending aid. 

Wish I knew who did this but this is Sentwali. Beautiful isn’t it?

When Sentwali (pronounced sehn TWAH lee) showed up I knew I was in trouble.  And as more of his story that came to light, especially when he told Anna that the Nganga is stealing children it almost sealed the deal. I believe they will decide to help.  AFTER Anna helps Elsie, which is book three.  Elsie did try to usurp book three and stick Sentwali’s story in its place.  I firmly vetoed that.  I want to tell Elsie’s family’s story and so I will.

Her story is based on the Glen Coe Massacre of the MacDonalds in the Highlands.  It happened in 1692 and the family has been restless and seeking revenge for their wrongful deaths.  Needless to say that while I will be basing it on actual events, I will be twisting actual events enough to make the story happen.  It does require extensive research, which I will be starting once I finish Demon Plague and get Witch Hitlist up and running.

I just have to get the balls to finish writing the investment proposal and send it to people.  I loathe asking for money, no matter what it’s for.  I feel like I should be able to do everything I want to do myself but at this point it’s impossible.  Just need someone who believes in me enough to do this with a very slow return in their investment.

Well, I’m off to do housework and maybe make cookies.  I’ve been craving the wee round pieces of delectableness for some time now.  Too bad I can’t make peanut butter ones.  Yum.

Oh!  I should add the following note:

Taiyou Clan – a Russian clan of WereBears

Kita Tribe – an Indian Tribe of Naga (snake people)

Bloedbad Coterie – a group of WereBirds, Harpy Eagles specifically.  

The three groups of Lycans (and I prefer to use the term Lycan to describe all Weres, though I know there are those who would argue) have been in Scotland for 15 generations (the Bears), 7 generations (the Naga) and 3 generations (the Eagles).  “Taiyou” means sun.  “Kita” means war.  And “bloedbad” means carnage.